The FAU band formerly known as the Stonecutters produces an independent album under a new name, Mylo Ranger

Regina Kaza

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Correction: In a previous version of this article, the UP reported Mylo Ranger recorded their article in ten weeks. The album was recorded in ten days, not ten weeks.

For the past year harmonicas, banjos and Irish tin whistles have been blaring from the fifth floor of Parking Garage II behind the Visual Arts building every Tuesday and Thursday night. The band that used to be up there played alternative folk covers and a few original songs — they called themselves the Stonecutters.

The band up there now goes by Mylo Ranger.

It’s still the same five guys belting out three part harmonies and joking around in British accents, just with a new name and a new album coming out Nov. 2.

The floor under them shakes as cars pull in and out of parking spots, but it doesn’t disrupt them or the students listening. The only light at the top is in a corner by the stairs, marked by a giant blue “5”. A raggedy cardboard sign with their name spray painted in purple and green leans against the wall. Throughout the hour long practice, people cruise by on longboards, stopping to listen to the music coming from this corner.

Three people sit cross legged a few feet from the band and take pictures of them while singing along.

Ever since the Stonecutters got together in August 2011, they’ve practiced alternative folk covers of Mumford and Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show bluegrass folk style, songs from this garage. The band performs at local venues like the Funky Buddha Lounge, Coyote Jack’s and local coffee shops, but now the group is about to play their biggest venue yet — the two floor Green Room in downtown Fort Lauderdale .

Priorities
Last December, their first original Stray dog was recorded on FAU’s CompOWLation album created by Hoot/Wisdom Recordings. Now, almost a year later, Mylo Ranger is releasing their debut album, Nameless Number One.

And it took locking themselves away in drummer/guitarist Jason Hester’s small hometown of Pensacola, Fla. for 10 days to finish it. “I think we liked the idea of being out in the middle of nowhere,” Hester says. “There’s nothing there, you can drive two or three miles and only hit a gas station.”

And even though lead vocalist and guitarist Myles Corvalan and guitarist Dave Pitruzzello are about to graduate, school isn’t the number one priority. Playing two shows in one night and having harmonica player and vocalist Barron Van Deusen live on a cot in their living room is more important than remembering to write a paper for western civilization.

And they plan to keep it that way.

Home sweet home
In an apartment in Delray Beach, the band gets ready for the first show of the night at the Beat Cup coffee shop. Instead of kicking back beers before, Hester sips on Gatorade as the group tries out instruments.

“I guess we’re a lot more chill,” Van Deusen says. “We just get ready and it’s like ‘Well let’s go be Mylo Ranger now.’”

With 10 amps sitting in front of their front door, most of them broken, their home holds more instruments and equipment than actual furniture. But it’s still your typical college guy apartment — dishes in the sink, Bud Light boxes on the floor, and, of course, a stuffed animal penguin in a pile of clutter.

Walking past the kitchen and into a corner of the living room, I’m suddenly in Van Deusen’s bedroom.

Up until a month ago, Van Deusen was working as a chef at a gas station in Sarasota and playing a few shows here and there with the guys. “We made a plan for him to quit in about a month and move down,” Corvalan says.

One night the guys kicked back and relaxed at Park Avenue BBQ and Grill over some burgers and beers.

The phone rang. It was about a gig at the Satchmo Blues Bar in Fort Lauderdale about 30 minutes away. There was only one catch — the show was in an hour.

“We load our stuff and pack up in Jason’s car,” Van Deusen says, “book it to this place, Satchmo in Fort Lauderdale, that neither of us have seen before, and play a show on the fly.”

After playing a few original songs — but mostly covers — Van Deusen called his manager in Sarasota and told him he wasn’t coming into work the next morning. “And somehow,” Corvalan says, “we convinced him to quit his job practically that weekend.”

Since then Van Deusen’s been living on a cot next to a bookcase, in the corner of Corvalan and Jason Hester’s living room.

He pulls an Irish tin whistle off a shelf — he needs it for the show — and starts playing My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion. Meanwhile, Dave Pitruzzello plays on a guitar, Hester tests out the amps, and Corvalan scrambles to get dressed and pack up the car.

There isn’t a moment when someone’s not playing music.

“Jason, that sounds like dog ass, dude,” Van Deusen tells Hester while he’s on the guitar. “I love it.”

The white Ford SUV is loaded and ready to go. A wooden shadow box sits on the floor near the pile with the stuffed penguin by the front door. Corvalan plugs it in and the shadow box lights the word “Stonecutters.” His grandfather made it for them and it used hang on their wall. “Well,” Corvalan says, “we’re not the Stonecutters anymore.”

He unplugs the frame and the tiny yellow lights go out.

Playing in your living room
Hester strolls right on into the Beat Cup and straight to the foosball table at the end of the artsy cafe where the walls are lined with random artwork and a few couches clutter the small space.

He greets newfound bassist, Robert Humphreys, who’s already in an intense game on the table shouting and yelling each time someone scores. The other guys scatter, Corvalan orders an iced tea, and Pitruzzello picks up a wooden ukulele and starts playing at a small table.

The guys have played here about five to six times over the past year. “Last time we played, we had them dancing so that’s always good,” Pitruzzello says walking inside.

“It’s definitely a home turf here,” Corvalan says.

The cafe is nearly empty, with one guy sitting at the small bar. “[8 p.m.] is really early, we were kind of expecting it,” Hester says as he sits down after running out of quarters for foosball. Black and white Betty Boop videos play on the Beat Cup’s wall while chairs, mini merry-go-round horses, and other random decorations hang from the ceiling.

The show hasn’t started yet, but their second show at the Green Room is in two hours. It’s in downtown Fort Lauderdale, about 30 minutes away, and the biggest venue they’ve ever played together. “It’s gonna feel good,” Pitruzzello says about the new stage.

“We’ve done two shows in one night,” Corvalan says. “But not like this.”

FAU’s record label, Hoot Wisdom Recordings, is hosting the concert for some of its signed artists. But according to Corvalan, who’s in the FAU music program, the band was never signed with the label as Mylo Ranger or the Stonecutters. “We never were signed to the actual label,” he says. “We’re not the label’s band.”

“Artists sign for [a] one song contract on the compilation,” Hoot/Wisdom President Britney Miller says. “It’s a sample of the artists at FAU. Mylo Ranger signed on for a one song contract, but they’re not a full time label artist.”

Nine p.m. rolls around and they fill the tiny stage that only fits Corvalan and the rest on the floor area around him, the spray painted cardboard sign leaning against the platform. A quick sound check with Dani California by Red Hot Chilli Peppers starts off the show.

A crowd of about 10 people grows to 20 in minutes. Mashups of alternative band Jet and Tom Petty fill the living room style shop along with covers of Mumford and Sons songs and Death Cab for Cutie’s, I’ll follow you into the dark. The sounds of tin whistles and harmonicas give these covers a folk sound and a blend of three-part harmonies.

“This is a song about starting somewhere and ending up nowhere,” Corvalan says over the mic. It’s a song from the new album. “Right, boys?” They nod and play Nameless Number One, which still has their classic folk sound, but with deeper lyrics and tune.

After the last song, the cafe’s regular reggae music comes back over the speakers and the venue becomes a coffee shop once again. Robert Humphreys goes back to the foosball table while the rest of the guys go the car to change clothes for their next show.

Corvalan stays and slowly packs up his guitar and cardboard sign, wiping the beads of sweat off his forehead. He folds the cardboard sign, packs it in his case, and clips the latches closed.

The big one
The Green Room walls are lined with white chiffon drapes, and crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Indie Rock band Raggy Monster is setting up on the stage, made of a wooden platform set on top of a bar. The other five bands playing, including Mylo Ranger right in the middle, have their equipment piled up next to the stage.

The guys walk out to meet me dressed in suits and hats except for Dave Pitruzzello who’s wearing red pants, a white linen shirt, brown western hat and shiny black shoes. “I’m like the Mexican that got away,” he says.

Corvalan changed out of his blue and red flannel shirt and jeans into a gray suit, long tie, and sneakers. “Better to show up in a sweaty shirt than something else,” Corvalan says with a wide grin that he didn’t have at the show before.

Humphreys is decked in a beige jacket from Good Will, white crocodile shoes and a top hat. “I challenge them to dress as nice as me,” he explains.

It’s around 10 p.m. and the crowd is pretty slim, but still heavier compared to the Beat Cup’s living room feel. Raggy Monster plays their set, and the guys watch and mingle with other band members.

“It’s great,” Humphreys says. “It’s like the night doesn’t have to end.”

Eleven p.m. rolls around and the guys set up their equipment and start playing. Within 45 minutes, the crowd grows to the thirties and some start dancing to one of their oldest songs, Stray dog.

“How many hands out there,” asks Corvalan. “Don’t know who the hell we are?” Around six out of 20 listeners raise their hand.

Whether it’s the venue or the crowd, they play this show at a faster pace, with more energy. Less covers and swaying, more originals and throwing their hats and ties on the stage floor.

The stage shakes and this time it’s not cars in a parking garage rocking the floors, it’s their band. Between Barron Van Deusen’s harmonica theatrics, Corvalan and Jason Hester’s switches between guitar and drums, their spray painted cardboard sign gets knocked over the ground.

One guy walks past people dancing, picks it up, puts is back on the stage.

The show goes on.